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Monumental hoax

“Those purchased in the initial stage of the health emergency were given free to hospitals.

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President Rodrigo Duterte’s own front men in the battle against the pandemic provided a clear argument to prove the allegation about overpriced medical supplies as claimed in the Senate is a mere hoax.

National Task Force Testing Czar Secretary Vince Dizon recounted that during the first few months after the coronavirus disease 2019 landed in the country, personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks were so scarce that medical personnel resorted to laundering the disposable items that increased their risk of infection.

At that time, the worry was about doctors and hospital personnel falling ill for lack of protection against the virus.

Those purchased in the initial stage of the health emergency were given free to hospitals, “personally delivered by National Task Force Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez,” according to Dizon.

The quick action not only stemmed the casualties among frontliners, but also provided them assurance the government would not leave them behind.

Difficulties at that time included responding to logistical challenges in the distribution of a huge volume of equipment sent to all corners of the country. Dizon narrated Galvez had to come up with warehouses and summon logistical resources just to keep the supply line flowing.

The gears coming in at the right time after President Duterte directed the purchase of the medical supplies at all cost saved many lives, according to Dizon.

The bottom line is that “We will all be judged by history,” Dizon indicated.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who is a lawyer and professor at the University of the Philippines law school, said there was no violation of the law regarding the assailed purchases.

The government purchased PPE compliant with World Health Organization standards at P1,716 each, compared to the price prior to the Duterte administration of from P3,500 to P3,800 for a set.

With the 12 percent value added tax, the price per PPE comes to P1,950, which was still far below the cost of purchase during the previous regime.

The hospital implements were also purchased at deferred payment that allowed the government more time to look for funds, according to Roque. No down payments were made.

Cash was released only after the PPE arrived and passed a quality inspection.

Roque noted the attempt to mislead in the conduct of the investigations. He said the comparative PPE price presented at a lower P1,300 each was already in June when the shortage had been addressed.

“The crux of the allegations was the price of PPE in April, when the pandemic was quickly spreading and every nation was looking for PPE supplies,” Roque explained.

“If the hearing was held in court, the proper move would be to object to the allegations since these were misleading as it involved two different months,” he noted.

Considering the fact that the unsubstantiated gripes were coming from presidential wannabes, the agenda was clear.

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